Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Haunting of the Disney Studio

The Haunting of the Disney Studio

In reading both David Bossert’s book, Remembering Roy E. Disney and Marty Sklar’s book Dream It! Do It! I found out some interesting things about the history of the Disney Studio. This was reinforced by some bonus features on the Blu-Ray of The Little Mermaid.

From shortly after Walt Disney’s death in 1966 to the early 1980’s was considered the dark ages for Disney Animation. Animated features were few and of lesser quality than when Walt was alive. The studio hit rock bottom with Black Caldron in 1985. The original 9 Old Men, team of animators had died, retired or was about to retire. New, young animators were taking over the studio. These young men were all excited to be in the Disney Studios working at the desks of legends in the field of animation. They also found themselves haunted by doubt. Could they live up to the likes of Frank and Ollie, Ward Kimble and the rest of the 9 Old Men and those they had mentored during the early years of the studio and beyond.

In the late 1980’s new management considered shutting down the Animation Studio in favor of putting the energy into live action films and the parks. Roy E. Disney stepped up fought for animation. The new management (Roy E. had helped bring them in) gave into Roy E. DISNEY and allowed animation to continue at Disney Studios but felt real estate at the Disney Studio in Burbank was at a premium so the Animators were moved into trailers on a lot in Glendale.

At first hearing about this and also hearing what the animators that worked there at that time said the general consensus was Disney management was wrong to move them. They moved the animators out of the building made for them into trailers! How disrespectful! How hard that must have been for those men! What I’ve learned recently reading the books I’ve mentioned and watching the bones feature that it started out bad but the move turned out for the best for the studio and them!

The animators had to fight for the respect they deserved. They had to fight for their art form. They had to show the studio heads that knew nothing of animation how valuable it was. But mostly they got away from the old Disney Animation Building were arguably the best of the best in animation had gone before them.

In the new trailers they were able to be themselves and work hard to show what they could do. Instead of looking at their desk and wondering what Frank, Ollie, Ward or Mark Davis might have done with what they were working on they were free to explore and see what they could do. They were free to try new things and Roy E. Disney was a bridge to the past that reminded them of where the studio came from and to encourage them to “Keep Moving Forward” as his Uncle Walt had said.

In 1995 Disney Animation returned to the Disney Studio Lots in Burbank and is now located in what is called the Roy E. Disney Animation Building.t

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